Argentines do enjoy their red wine and steak. Many do tote around their mate gourds and thermoses and, for a night out, will mix up Fernet and Cokes. Perhaps a couple Argentines can slide through a few tango steps. Some of the stereotypes of this country can be true, same as for any other country or culture.
What I am always drawn to discovering when somewhere new is the more nuanced cultural affinities of the place; things beyond what first comes to mind when people hear the name of the city or country. They’re the tendencies and favorites that take some time to notice, and they’re often more insightful as to how people live their lives and what they enjoy than any stereotypes could be.
I’ve listed out some of what I find to be the most interesting, funny or unexpected Argentine favorites I have noticed over the course of my months in Buenos Aires. I’ve limited it mostly to physical objects, because I could go on forever about Argentine cultural phenomena, such as the proclivity to making and taking national holidays as much as possible, (ie: Immaculate Conception Day on December 8 when everyone puts up their Christmas trees) or the all-pervasive grungy look in vogue here right now.
The coolest, fittest way to get around is rollerblading. People rent blades for hour increments in parks, or strap on their own high-tech, aerodynamic pairs. Rollerblading lives far beyond the 90s in Buenos Aires, and I am definitely not too cool for it. One of my favorite Sundays in the city was spent blading laps around Parque 3 de Febrero.
Similarly, that crazy orange powder drink oh-so-inventively represented with an orangutan enjoys its popularity well past the ’90s in Buenos Aires. One common way to enjoy it is to pour it in with mate to cut the caffeinated drink’s bitterness.
While we’re on the subject of drinks, people love their Stella here. Argentine beer Quilmes is a prideful favorite, but imbibers who want to take their drinking a step classier go for the Stella.
Want to stock your departamento with Stella but couldn’t get to a market to pick some up for the night? Call delivery! Alcohol delivery, ice cream delivery, McDonald’s delivery, even one-cup-of-coffee delivery; it’s all coming right to your door.
Lacking WiFi (pronounced “wee-fee”) really undermines an establishment’s legitimacy, because in Buenos Aires the majority of all cafes, restaurants, bars and pretty much all enclosed indoor spaces, including the Buquebus station, offer free WiFi. I’m not sure why someone would go to a bar with a laptop, but the service is there—and not necessarily secure—if you want it.
Back to the subject of drinks, Speed, an energy drink similar to Redbull or Rockstar, is a favored Argentine mixer. Speed with vodka is a frequently ordered drink for girls or guys, and people often order cans of speed with a bottle of champagne to mix together. (The champagne-Speed combination is a taste my friends and I are still trying to force ourselves to enjoy, but still just don’t understand.) Four Loko managers reading this, have you considered a foray into South America?
Sushi is so chic in Buenos Aires, just as it’s a ‘trendy’ food in many parts of the world. I am not much of an expert on sushi, but from what I have gathered from friends more knowledgeable in the field, it seems the sushi here is not all that inventive. Many of the more daring fish, like eel, are missing from most menus, and for some reason, rolls with salmon almost always come with Philadelphia cream cheese. Still, you have plenty of options if you’re craving sushi in Buenos Aires, from the sleek SushiClub to one of the three delivery places on your block, like Kaiseki near my house and pictured above.
american skate and surf clothing brands
Rip Curl, Billabong, Quiksilver and similar skate/surf clithing brands are everywhere, from the gyms to the clubs. Teenage boys through male 30-year-olds sport shirts with the brand names emblazoned on, usually accompanied with some artsy design.
American brands are pretty coveted in Argentina in general, as an iPhone (or any Mac product) is a status symbol and Nike sneakers are a must-have for many.
This could easily continue for paragraphs, to include things like rugby and field hockey (the former is one of the most popular sports for guys, the latter for girls), Mafalda, pool parties in the summertime and bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers, but for now my list of Argentine remains curated to the items above. Been in Buenos Aires and noticed something por todos lados you’ve found interesting? Please post it in the comments!
–Karina for TKGO